Online Shopping V.S. Physical Store Shopping
With the huge popularity with online shopping, small business has no chance in continuing as usual, small business owners will eventually have to accept the fact times are changing. Plain and simple. This also applies to large business as well. We can all reminisce about the days when department stores and mega-malls were among the main places for us to meet, socialize and, of course, shop. Spending an afternoon at the big downtown department stores used to be a family treat during the holiday shopping season. The experience eventually evolved more into trips to the mall – which were typically anchored by a major department store or two.
Yet we had to deal with the reality of crowds, gas money to get through and from, find parking, or those who had to take a train, buss, etc. Which we know can be frustrating and exhausting. Ah why not shop online and have it delivered right to your door?
“ That’s all changed. We have certainly witnessed in recent years a pronounced uptick in terms of consumers doing their shopping online and through various mobile devices and applications.
That’s the trend, but does it really mean people will shop exclusively on these devices in the not-too-distant future? Are we in the final days of a major retail shopping shakeup that will eventually make department and other physical stores a thing of the past?
There will always be a certain segment of the population who will frequent brick-and-mortar stores for the opportunity to “touch and feel” the merchandise. This is an important aspect for some age groups such as baby boomers and Generation X. On the other hand, the millennials and other younger generations tend to buy their clothes and gadgets online.
A desire for “instant gratification” or “instant ownership” is still key with some buyers – including youths – who appreciate the ability to touch, feel and buy an item all in the same moment, currently only possible at a physical store.
For brands, the eCommerce route can have many benefits over a brick-and-mortar store. They don’t require expensive storefronts; instead, more cost-effective warehouses are used to hold inventory. With multiple warehouses, brands can ship products quicker via online orders, and users can receive products faster than ever before. The convenience of shopping online is arguably the greatest benefit, as consumers can select a product and purchase it within minutes. For families, either mom or dads can shop after her kids are already in bed, or on a smartphone as he/she’s out doing errands. This has opened up countless opportunities for brands, as advertisers discover new ways to target consumers where ever they are, in order to encourage immediate purchases.
Consumers also love to shop online because it allows them to find the best price for products. Whether they follow the brand on social media for exclusive deals or search for online coupons, consumers can find a product they want and save money at the same time. In fact, 38% of consumers visit manufacturer websites in search of coupons. They can also more efficiently find the best price across many different websites, instead of having to visit many different stores.
For consumers, both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers have their advantages, but which one will users continue to shop? Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry, but until the Internet can provide all the benefits of in the in-store experience, physical stores will continue to be in demand for now.
However, in-store experiences will need to grow and evolve in order to continue to compete with the convenience of online shopping. Brands need to go above and beyond expectations and provide an enjoyable, convenient shopping experience. This can be done as brands incorporate new technologies into stores to make the shopping experience more efficient, and continue to offer helpful resources for customers. The biggest challenge for brands is to create one flawless and integrated system to incorporate online and in-store shopping together. The brands that can discover a seamless way to make shopping both online and offline connect will be the most successful.
Consumers expect a high level of service and dedication from all brands, whether they are shopping online or in-store. Both methods have opportunities to grow and improve as technology continues to advance.